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Story published: 05-15-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

The Circle of Life

By Paula Walter

It’s been said that there’s a lot of talent in Johnson County, and Saturday’s performance was a powerful demonstration of the amazing ability of the youth of the county. This past weekend, the Johnson County Young Artists presented the musical, “The Circle of Life,” an original work written by Lacy Hilliard.

 Lisa Zeggert directed the play with assistance from her co-director, Michael Eggers. “Lisa Zeggert is a creative genius,” said Hilliard. The musical is loosely based on the movie, “The Lion King.” From that idea came the beginnings of Hilliard’s first play, “The Circle of Life.”  The first draft was completed in approximately two weeks, but she ended up adding new scenes and characters to fit the growing number of actors.  “It was very challenging because I am not used to that style of writing,” Hilliard said. “It was a lot of fun and made me want to do it again.” Katie Walsh, along with assistance from Aisia Robbins, was in charge of the choreography.  “I am extremely impressed with the level of artistry in the dancing,” she said. This was Walsh’s first attempt at choreography.

The theme of the musical was learning to resolve conflict and live together in peace and harmony. In the jungle a tribe of people lived side by side with the animal kingdom. Each morning the tribal people would meet and receive words of wisdom from Rafifki, the spiritual leader. However, there was discord in the jungle among the animals and people. They found they could not live in harmony with each other. After a drought and an impressive fight scene, the tribal people and the animals chose peace and harmony over dissension. The rains came and there was joyous celebration. Not surprisingly, it was the children who pled with the leaders to stop the fighting. “Peace has been restored to these great lands,” said Rafiki.

Inu, the Tribe Elder, asked for the assistance of the audience to mimic the sounds of the tropical rainstorm. Dividing the audience into three sections, they snapped their fingers, slapped their legs and stomped their feet, creating unique effects as it sounded as if a gentle rain started slowly, but increased in tempo to echo the pounding rain in the jungle. As the play came to a close, a wise Rafiki imparted words of wisdom that apply to our daily lives. “When given a choice between harmony and conflict, we hope you choose peace,” he said.

Thirty-five students from all of schools within Johnson County endeared themselves to the audience with their bright eyes as some could barely contain their excitement. The energy level was palpable as the children danced, sang, clapped and even stomped their bare feet in unison to the music. They did an excellent job learning their dance routines and lines in a short time period.  Each child that wanted a speaking part was given the opportunity, and there were others who were more comfortable dancing. While some of the young actors and actresses were veteran performers, there were many there for the first time.

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